Monday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

May 24, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Monday, May 24, 2021: National Escargot Day. It is a Three Bun Day, which means that I saw three cottontail rabbits on my way to work. This augurs a good day: 12 rabbits’ feet!

It’s also Asparagus Day, Brother’s Day (only one brother being celebrated?), and, in Canada, Victoria Day and its related holiday in Quebec, National Patriots’ Day (Journée nationale des patriotes). And Bob Dylan turns 80 today! (See below.)

News of the Day:

“Defund the police” was always a dubious slogan, unless qualified with strict specifications on where the money would go to compensate for reduced policing or to add extra social value. And, sure enough, this headline has appeared in The New Woke Times (click on screenshot):

The cause, of course, is a rise in violent crime. A quote:

. . . more cops is what Los Angeles is getting.

A year after streets echoed with calls to “defund” law enforcement and city leaders embraced the message by agreeing to take $150 million away from the Los Angeles Police Department, or about 8 percent of the department’s budget, the city last week agreed to increase the police budget to allow the department to hire about 250 officers. The increase essentially restores the cuts that followed the protests.

The BBC reports that John Kelly, an ultamarathoner, just set a record in the grueling Pennine Way race, a 260-mile route that “runs down the spine of Britain from the Scottish Borders’ Kirk Yetholm to Edale in Derbyshire’s Peak District.”They add that a fit hiker would take over two weeks to hike the route, but Kelly did it in just 58 hours and four minutes. And he had only two 10-minute naps along the way!

Speaking of ultramarathons, the NYT reports a mass death: 21 runners in a Chinese ultramarathon, including one of their best athletes, died when cold weather and freezing rain inundated a 62-mile mountain race. Many of the runners were clad only in short and tee-shirts.

The Associated Press has collected some depressing and hair-raising stories about how the pandemic has affected the lives of Indians, while the medical system breaks down. Here’s just one of several stories:

The Amrohi Family, Gurgaon

At the Amrohi apartment, the former ambassador’s family was calling his medical school classmates for help. One eventually arranged a bed at a nearby hospital.

It was April 26. The brutal north Indian summer was coming on. Temperatures that day reached nearly 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).

His wife, Yamini, and their adult son Anupam put him into the family’s compact SUV.

They arrived about 7:30 p.m. and parked in front of the main doors, thinking Ashok would be rushed inside. They were wrong. Admission paperwork had to be completed first, and the staff was swamped.

So they waited.

Anupam stood in line while Yamini stayed in the car with Ashok, who was breathing bottled oxygen. She blasted the air-conditioning, trying to keep him cool.

An hour passed. Two hours. Someone came to swab Ashok for a coronavirus test. It came back positive. His breathing had grown difficult.

“I went thrice to the hospital reception for help. I begged, pleaded and shouted at the officials,” she said. “But nobody budged.”

At one point, their daughter called from London, where she lives with her family. With everyone on a video call, their four-year-old grandson asked to talk to Ashok.

“I love you, Poppy,” he said.

Ashok pulled off his oxygen mask: “Hello. Poppy loves you too.”

Three hours.

Four hours.

Anupam returned regularly to the car to check on his father.

“It’s almost done,” he would tell him each time. “Everything is going to be alright. Please stay with us!”

Five hours.

A little after midnight, Ashok grew agitated, pulling off the oxygen mask and gasping. His chest heaved. Then he went still.

“In a second he was no more,” Yamini said. “He was dead in my arms.”

Yamini went to the reception desk: “You are murderers,” she told them.

The story continues later in the article.

And a BBC report describes a deadly “black fungus” disease that strikes some people in India who have recovered from Covid, mostly males with underlying conditions like diabetes. It is a fulminating infection caused by a common soil fungus and must be treated with long-term doses of antifungal agents.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 589,517, an increase of 563 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,478,596, an increase of about 9,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 24 includes:

  • 1487 – The ten-year-old Lambert Simnel is crowned in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland, with the name of Edward VI in a bid to threaten King Henry VII’s reign.
  • 1607 – One hundred English settlers disembark in Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in America.
  • 1626 – Peter Minuit buys Manhattan.

Yes, the island was a bargain: it went for 60 guilders, a trifling amount now worth about $1,143. The sellers were Lenape Native Americans.

  • 1683 – The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, opens as the world’s first university museum.
  • 1813 – South American independence leader Simón Bolívar enters Mérida, leading the invasion of Venezuela, and is proclaimed El Libertador (“The Liberator”).
  • 1844 – Samuel Morse sends the message “What hath God wrought” (a biblical quotation, Numbers 23:23) from a committee room in the United States Capitol to his assistant, Alfred Vail, in BaltimoreMaryland, to inaugurate a commercial telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Morse in 1840; the man knew his Bible:

  • 1883 – The Brooklyn Bridge in New York City is opened to traffic after 14 years of construction.
  • 1930 – Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia (she left on May 5 for the 11,000 mile flight).

Here’s Johnson  in her Gypsy Moth plane in 1930. The flight took her six days. Sadly, she died after running out of fuel over the Thames Estuary in 1941 and, parachuting safely into the water, died of extreme cold.

  • 1935 – The first night game in Major League Baseball history is played in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the Cincinnati Reds beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2–1 at Crosley Field.
  • 1940 – Igor Sikorsky performs the first successful single-rotor helicopter flight.

Here’s Sikorsky in his first helicopter:

A second attempt succeeded in August of that same year. If you’re in Mexico City, do visit Trotsky’s house, or rather fortress, which he built to stave off attacks. He knew Stalin was going to go after him. In 2012 I visited it (Frida Kahlo’s house is just a few blocks away); here’s the desk where Trotsky was sitting when an assassin put an ice axe into his head. It’s said to be just as he left it.

  • 1956 – The first Eurovision Song Contest is held in Lugano, Switzerland.
  • 1976 – The Judgment of Paris takes place in France, launching California as a worldwide force in the production of quality wine.
  • 1991 – Israel conducts Operation Solomon, evacuating Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
  • 1999 – The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands indicts Slobodan Milošević and four others for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo.
  • 2019 – Under pressure over her handling of Brexit, British Prime Minister Theresa May announces her resignation as Leader of the Conservative Party, effective as of June 7.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1819 – Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (d. 1901)
  • 1938 – Tommy Chong, Canadian-American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1941 – Bob Dylan, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, artist, writer, and producer; Nobel Prize laureate

Dylan is 80 today! How could time have passed so quickly? Here’s a photo I have in my office of Dylan with a certain young lady (his significant other at the time) who went on to achieve her own renown:


  • 1960 – Kristin Scott Thomas, English actress

Those who lost their lives on May 24 include:

  • 1543 – Nicolaus Copernicus, Polish mathematician and astronomer (b. 1473)
  • 1879 – William Lloyd Garrison, American journalist and activist (b. 1805)
  • 1974 – Duke Ellington, American pianist and composer (b. 1899)

I’ve almost finished reading my biography of Duke. Here’s one of my favorites from the Blanton-Webster version of his band (1939-1940): “Cotton Tail.” I put it up in honor of the three bunnies I saw this morning. And yes, this one swings! The sax solo made Ben Webster famous. (And this will wake you up, so keep the sound down if folks are sleeping!).

  • 1996 – Joseph Mitchell, American journalist and author (b. 1908)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Paulina have a chat.

Hili: How does the writing of your masters theses go?
Paulina: It’s going well but sometimes I need a break.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Jak ci idzie pisanie pracy magisterskiej?
Paulina: Dobrze, ale czasem muszę odpocząć.

And Mietek has a moment of rapture:

Mietek: The wind in my hair.

In Polish: Wiatr we włosach

From Science Humor:

From Bruce:

From Meriliee. I do this, too, sticking one foot out from under the covers at night:

I made a tweet!

From reader Ken, who comments, “This man was at one time the National Security Advisor of the United States of America.”


Tweets from Matthew:

I think this cat’s just harassed:

This is a gynandromorph (half male, half female) ant of the ant species Pheidole noda, with sexual traits split straight down the middle. I suspect that the side with the wing is male, because only males or females who are destined to be queens have wings. Look at the difference between the male and female morphology!

Fun history and art fact (lovely paintings, too):

Everybody says this photo is wrong, but they can’t quite say why. Are the measurements wrong? Are they using different scales? You tell me! The guy certainly looks more than a foot and eight inches taller than the woman.

44 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

  1. I screenshotted the full image from head to foot of the male police office. He’s about 2,000 pixels tall. The female police officer is about 1,500 pixels tall. In pixels, she is 3/4 the height of the man. 6 foot 9 is 81 inches. 5 foot 1 is 61 inches. That is about 3/4. The image is to scale near enough.

    1. Totally agree – because the photo cuts off the legs to quite an extent we are comparing the full actual height difference to a partial height of each person. To add to the illusion, the ‘loss’ to the smaller person is proportionally greater and the larger bulk of the male officer makes us see him as even taller.


      1. This clearly explains the photo to me. I do not understand those foot and toes mesures.

    2. Before seeing your calculations, I measured the screen heights and the difference between the two officers (in mm), estimated that the image cut him off just above the knees, measured what % of my own height is below that point (31.5%), converted from screen mm to feet, and thus calculated the difference in height of the two officers as 1′ 8.5″. Pretty close.


      1. But … half the people with a vote (i.e. residents of other Euroviosion countries, which I believe now includes Australia) will be thinking “Nul points for Britain, to get them to leave the competition”, and the other half will be thinking “some points for Britain, to force them to create another entry next year”.
        I forget when, but some years ago Ireland won two years on the trot, which was greeted with wailing and gnashing of teeth in the broadcaster’s finance department due to the cost of hosting the event. Very much a case of continuing the morale-improving floggings.

        1. According to Wikipedia, Ireland won three times in a row:

          Ireland then achieved an unequalled three consecutive victories in the contest. In 1992, 1984 runner-up Linda Martin returned to win with another Johnny Logan composition, “Why Me?” This was followed up by Niamh Kavanagh’s victory over Sonia in 1993 with “In Your Eyes” and Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan winning in 1994 with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids”.

          1. That would have had the Finance Dept slitting their wrists.
            How did Phyrrus put it? “Another victory like that and we’re doomed.”

  2. While I ache for the individuals in India, I can’t help but remember that they elected their version of Trump, so they are getting what they voted for – inaction, denial, no planning, bad faith.

    I fear that we may go back to that here, and we, too, will get what we vote for. Only next time, it could be permanent.


  3. And Bob Dylan turns 80 today!

    Dang, over the weekend I happened to be listening to A Nod to Bob, the album of covers of some of his early tunes by various artists recorded in honor of his 60th birthday. Sure doesn’t seem like 20 years ago. (There was also A Nod to Bob II, in honor of his 70th, and now I suppose we’ll have A Nod to Bob III.)

    1. Perhaps along with hydroxychloroquine, Gen. Flynn also received the bleach and UV light injections.

      1. But taking hydrochloroquin for 24years! What was he taking it for? Long term meds usually indicate something’s women.

        1. Having been in the military, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if it was for malaria : (Wiki) “a medication used to prevent and treat malaria in areas where malaria remains sensitive to chloroquine.”
          Depends which areas he was under threat of rapid deployment to.

          Or, of course, he could be lying. “Politician”, ’nuff said.

    2. Indeed, Ken!

      On July 4, 2020, Flynn pledged an oath to the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory, and as Trump sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in which he was defeated, Flynn suggested the president should suspend the Constitution, silence the press, and hold a new election under military authority. Flynn later met with Trump and their attorney Powell in the Oval Office to discuss the president’s options. Trump denied reports that Flynn’s martial law idea had been discussed. On January 8, 2021, Twitter permanently banned Flynn, Powell and others who promoted QAnon.

    3. I would respectfully say that Flynn was already insane prior to Covid and prior to Trump the clown taking office. The Obama administration specifically told the clown not to hire this one because he was just as nuts as you. Shows how far behind Obama really was with understanding this nut job about to become president.

  4. In Minneapolis, last week, I heard on the radio a local (black) activist actually ridiculing the idea of “defunding the police” in a public speech. Minneapolis is “enjoying” a big surge in violent crime and, in particular, shootings, pretty much all young black men shooting each other.

    Unfortunately, quite a few bystanders have been caught in the crossfire, including several children.

    The talk in Minneapolis is no longer (for the generality of the population) about defunding police; but increasing police presence in the city.

    For reference, Daunte Wright was shot when resisting arrest and attempting to flee arrest on an active arrest warrant for a firearms (illegal possession) charge. If the police are prohibited from arresting people for firearms charge warrants (for the few gun laws we do have), how is the real problem to be addressed?

    I have said before, what I think is needed for police is:
    1. Institute a robust CAPA system for errors in policing
    2. Train (and maintain training) for police in grappling so they can quickly and effectively subdue a resisting suspect by non-lethal means using only their “hands” (arms and legs).

    1. Here in the UK, a young female Black Lives Matter activist is in critical condition after being shot in the head. Initially, there was lots of stuff from her allies about how she’s the mother of young children, had received “numerous” death threats, and that “Any attempt to intimidate or silence her, is an attack on all of us”. Now it turns out that at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning she was in the garden at a party attended by “between 20 and 40 people” (more than 30 would be illegal under the current Covid-19 restrictions) when she was shot. The BBC reports one of her friends as saying

      As far as I am aware… this incident is more related to rival gangs as opposed to her activism”.

      The BBC also states

      Detectives added that there was currently nothing to suggest the shooting victim had received any credible threats against her [..].

      According to The Guardian

      Detectives are investigating whether somebody else at the gathering was the intended target, and Johnson was hit by mistake, or whether the shooting was indiscriminate. The police do not believe the shooting was targeted or linked to her activism at this stage. They urged people to avoid speculating as to the motive or the circumstances behind the shooting.

      1. Of course, the fact that they have no information now does not mean that there is no information.

        The murder of Swedish prime minister Olaf Palme was never solved. Probably the murderer was arrested then released. However, it seems that Palme might have been shot by mistake and thus that the assassination was not political at all. Another high-profile Swedish politician was killed several years later by someone obviously mentally ill.

    2. KC MO just “reallocated $42.3 million from the KCPD budget despite setting a new record for homicides last year, and a crime rate surpassing that of the 1990’s. The KC mayor is a fool. The citizens will be the ones who suffer. So be it. You get what you vote for.

  5. I’ve visited a handful of caves in Southern France and it wasn’t long until the the huge span of time for the cave art culture dawned on me. Many of the caves such as Chauvet are on the order of 30 thousand years. This means that for roughly 20 thousand years cave art changed very little. There was almost no noticeable evolution or advancement in appearance or style. This seems to mean that human culture was frozen for some reason. Was it that human brains were locked in place without the ability to think past the status quo? Did there need to be a genetic change in order for progress to be made? Quite a puzzle. That question aside, it is still not a settled question as to why the paintings were made to begin with. Maybe these two questions are related.

  6. Flynn: “I’ve been taking hydrochloroquine for thirty years.”

    Maybe he should’ve taken hydroxychloroquine instead.

  7. “Protest against the rising tide of conformity”

    How much does anyone want to bet that this is precisely what is motivating Clapton and Morrison in their “criticism” of, specifically, the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine(s)? Or were they criticisning only the AstraZeneca (if that is how it is spelled) formula?

  8. I’ve noticed that our perception of human height exaggerates the difference. I assume this is because we focus on the difference at eye level rather than taking in the length of the entire person. We tend to think that a person is, say, twice as tall as another because the part we focus on is twice as long. This illusion is aided in the picture here by the fact that their lower legs are not shown. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. 😉

    1. One of the very few things I can remember from “Art” at school is that if you’re trying to reproduce a face, you need to put the eyes about half-way up (or down) the actual face.
      Which sort-of gels with your idea (which is yours).

  9. And Bob Dylan turns 80 today!

    Ah, that would explain why there’s a whole night of Dylan programming on BBC4 on Friday.

  10. I’m 5’2” and I had a student who was 6’8” a few years ago. When he excused himself to go to the bathroom once he just climbed right over his desk without touching it. The proportions seem about right.

    1. 😀 As someone 6′-5″ tall (99th percentile in the USA, which is generally pretty tall, compared to the world), the world isn’t built for people our size. (My wife is 5’3-1/2″ tall — and don’t forget that 1/2-inch!)

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